Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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PARRY , DAVID ( 1682? - 1714 ), scholar ;

b. at Cardigan , son of William Parry , ‘ a poor man .’ About 1695 , when (as it would seem) at Cardigan grammar school (and ‘ a good Latinist ’), he was brought by William Gambold (see under Gambold family ) to the notice of Edward Lhuyd (q.v.) , who took him on as a helper, and as companion on his travels in Wales , Ireland , Scotland , and Brittany (there, both were imprisoned as ‘spies’). On their return to Oxford ( April 1701 ), Parry matriculated from Jesus College ; in 1704 Lhuyd strove to get him a scholarship, but though ‘ all were fond of Parry ,’ that ‘cold’ Fellow John Wynne (afterwards bishop , q.v.) prevented this. Parry graduated in 1705 ( M.A. 1708 ), and became unpaid under-keeper at the Ashmolean , under Lhuyd . In Lhuyd 's Archaeologia , 1707 (270-89), ‘ an Essay towards a British Etymologicon ,’ are by Parry . On Lhuyd 's death, Parry was appointed ( 19 July 1709 ) keeper of the Ashmolean — again without salary, however he may have supported himself. Hearne ( Collectanea , ii, 224) avers that there was no one more competent, ‘ if he would set himself to work ’; but Hugh Thomas (q.v.) describes him as ‘ capable … if he could spare time from his pots and companions; but out of the tipling [ sic ] house he cannot spare one minute even to common civility ’ ( Cambro-Briton , ii, 369). Later on, Hearne confesses that things were not too good at the Ashmolean , excusing Parry because he was unpaid. A German visited the Ashmolean in 1710 , but did not see Parry there — ‘ the custos, always in the tavern, was too busy guttling and guzzling ’ ( Mallet , Hist. of the University of Oxford , iii, 22). Parry d. in Dec. 17148 Dec. according to Richard Ellis (below), 10 Dec. according to Hearne (op. cit., v 2), who added: ‘ being a perfect sot he shortened his days, being just turned of thirty .’ Foster gives his academic career correctly, but errs (wherein he is followed by W. Wales Hist. Records , i, 253; iii, 229) in identifying him with another David Parry , vicar of Nolton and Bridell, Pembs. , whose will was proved in 1720 .


  • Foster , Alumni Oxonienses ;
  • R. T. Gunther , Life and letters of Edward Lhwyd second Keeper of the Musaeum Ashmoleanum (indexed);
  • Hearne , Collectanea anglo-poetica or, a Bibliographical and descriptive catalogue of a portion of a collection of early English poetry, with occasional extracts and remarks biographical and critical (Manchester, 1860-83) , ii, iii, v (indexed);
  • Richard Ellis in The Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion , 1906-7.


Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Published date: 1959